The gem that stumped even a noted gem lab is all new and all natural
Two years ago, veteran gem explorer Yianni Melas was doing some work at an African location—he doesn’t want to say where, so the area is not overrun. Geologists had dismissed the locale, convinced it held only some few stray opals. Locals didn’t think much of it either, but when Melas went to a friend’s hut, he saw an interesting specimen on a shelf that looked like he nothing he had ever seen before.
“I knew it was something unusual,” he said. “The stone was in really bad shape, and you could only see a little bit of blue-green inside. But when I put my light to it, it changed color. It went from blue-green to yellow-green. I thought: Where does this come from?
“I couldn’t explain why I thought it was different,” he adds. “It is like a third eye. I have seen thousands of stones and you get that feeling. When I picked up the stone, I had the chills, a funny feeling. That feeling is something you have to follow.”
When he dug a trench in the area, he saw it held a lot of this type of this gem (as well as opal). But nobody knew what the gem was—including other gem experts. Some called it a blue-green opal. Most said it chrysoprase. Others dubbed it chrysocolla. He was convinced it was neither.
So he sent it to a noted gem lab. After several months of examination, the verdict came back: chrysoprase. It was now Melas’ words against the experts’.
“There is a difference between laboratory guys and people who work in the field,” he says. “Each has their strength. But I stood my ground. I usually accept what people tell me. But I knew I was right, even though my friends started laughing at me.”
“I recall my African and Indian partners watching me perform a passionate Greek fit of anger insisting [the lab] was wrong,” he wrote on Instagram. “Chrysoprase [comes from] a Greek word meaning yellow-green. And this gem was a strong blue green…. I said, ‘Listen I’m Greek and [the lab] doesn’t understand Greek naming of gems. We named the damn things. And we would never call a blue-green stone chrysoprase [which means golden-green].”